Syria Loses 700 Years of Heritage to Civil War

Smoke plumed out of the Souq al-Madina on September 29, 2012, as a fire ripped through over 500 stalls in Aleppo’s medieval marketplace. For 700 years, the covered bazaar had been a hive of activity. Now much of the souk is a burned shell, another casualty of Syria’s civil war. For several months Aleppo has been the scene of fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and anti-government rebel groups. Along with the tragic loss of human life in this 18-month-old conflict is a loss of history.

Aleppo, now Syria’s largest city, is one of the oldest continually inhabited places in the world, dating back to before the pyramids’ construction. UNESCO named the city a World Heritage site in 1986. Aleppo’s historic center has the look and feel of a traditional Arab city with its madrasas (Islamic schools), hammams (Turkish baths), palaces, and caravanserais (inns for merchants). The souk dates from the 1400s and 1500s when Aleppo was a trading center and the third largest city in the Ottoman Empire. Muslims, Christians, and Jews conducted business in the souk’s shops and 7.5 miles of covered stone-paved streets.

Aleppo lies along the historic Silk Road, 75 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. Commercial roads met in Aleppo coming from Mesopotamia and China to the east, Europe to the west, and the Fertile Crescent and Egypt to the south. Fabric, spices, soap, and agricultural products were traded here centuries ago, as they were until recently.

Other World Heritage sites in Syria are also in threatened by the civil war. In mid-October, Aleppo’s Great Mosque, a 12th-century site, was burned and scarred by bullets. Thieves broke into one of the best-preserved Crusader castles, Crac des Chevaliers, and ruins of the ancient desert city of Palmyra have been looted and damaged. UNESCO and Arab cultural organizations have urged both sides to preserve their common past even as they fight to determine the future.

Image credit: © AP Photo/SANA, File

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  1. logan says:


  2. logan says:


  3. joey says:

    that’s amazing

  4. Eric says:

    What a loss! It’s sad that something can be preserved for so long, and destroyed so quickly. I hope this conflict ends quickly and the people can be safe and secure in their ancient homeland!

  5. sandra says:

    That is so sad my heart is broke about those of them dont have a home

  6. orphee auguste says:

    its so sad that the earthquake that pass and haiti was terrible and a lot of people who died and a lot of people get heart and was sad terrible because why all these happen cause people keep doing bad thing kill people do voudou an majic thats not cool you know cause people dont create person only god cause nobody can create a person only god you know why haiti is terrible know cause they do a lot of thing bad me i was and haiti i see everything because i born and there and i know haiti gonna change one day if only everybody chaqnge and god real bless haiti i khnow god love haiti its just because they dont change but i know god lived haiti so much and i beleive that so much because god save me from haiti . all haitien let do the right thing and lets all praise god and sing for him because we need help we need to change our life and all of us we will go to the beatiful palce that call heaven . we gonna have fun and enjoy us self in there will happy forever we wil have smile in our face be happy all the time never sad praise and have loved for each other and teach others . how to do right thing and before we gonna do something bad think and ask god help you . and god will save you and bless you and porude of you choice me i believe and god and i always sing for him always praise him and talk to him im 12 years old when i was 3 my parents teach me how to pray god and god was proude of me and bless me even i do anything wrong he still forgive ,me you know when i do something ahbd i say god forgive me he did so do the same thing god bless all

  7. orphee auguste says:


  8. Robert says:

    Hope they Have BETTER days

  9. sophia says:

    I am so sorry about this 🙁